The National Assembly elections petition tribunal sitting in Uyo was on Saturday stunned by revelations by a witness called by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Alloysius William that the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini instructed him to cancel votes that had already been collated for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Engr Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP was declared winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District election by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Senator Godswill Akpabio is challenging Ekpenyong’s declaration at the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akwa Ibom State and had presented his witnesses in the case. Engr Ekpenyong had also called his witnesses and closed his case.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday for the PDP to open its case, the Tribunal was shocked by revelations by Dr William, a lecturer in the University of Uyo that results which had already been collated at the Local Government and Senatorial District offices of INEC and which showed that Senator Akpabio had won convincingly were cancelled on the orders of the REC, Igini in his office in Uyo.
Dr William made these startling revelations during cross examination by Mr S. I Ameh, the lead Counsel to Senator Akpabio.
The PDP Witness told the tribunal that as the Returning Officer for Essien Udim, Akpabio’s home Local Government Area he personally prepared the result sheet which he entered the score for the candidate of the APC as 61,329 votes while the PDP candidate scored 9,050 votes.
According to the Witness, “I agree that adjustments were done. These adjustments reflected in the final scores. The adjustments were done outside Essien Udim LGA. They were done at INEC office in Uyo,” he said.
When asked to confirm the earlier testimony of a Witness of Engr Ekpenyong, the PDP candidate, Mr Anny Asikpo that he (the Returning Officer) had at some point disappeared from the Collation centre, a dazed Dr William said: “I did not absconded (sic.)”
Another Witness, a Corps Member who was a Presiding Officer during the elections, Mr Endurance Zachary had claimed that the elections were marred by violence and he was coerced to make entries which gave the APC victory.
However on cross examination he admitted that he did not make any report to anyone about his claim that materials were hijacked by thugs. He also admitted that he was forced to write his name and signature but was stunned when Mr Ameh, Counsel to Senator Akpabio showed him documents he claimed he was coerced to write his name and he wrote his three names: Ikhuenbor Endurance Zachary whereas in his witness depositions that was not forced to write, he used two names only: Endurance Zachary.
Two other Corps Members who served as Presiding Officers, Mr Adebitimi Abraham and Ms Oni Hallelujah Grace could neither present their Identity cards as Corps Members nor any letter of engagement by INEC. Ms Oni claimed that she did not swear to any oath of neutrality before being deployed by INEC to conduct the elections.
The case was subsequently adjourned to Tuesday, July 23 for presentation of more witnesses by the PDP and INEC.